Casey allowed Eleanor to organize an exhibit at the art gallery. As the day drew nearer his stomach tensed up in knots. When the day finally arrived for the actual exhibit, Casey looked at his reflection in the mirror ‘this is it,’ he sighed ‘I don’t know why I’m nervous. It’s not like I even wanted to do this.’ Leaving the bathroom he stumbled over the cat that Lynn rescued from the humane society.
It was just another change she had made that he had to adjust too. Not that he minded, he liked cats and Eddie was attached to it now. He heard giggles coming from Eddies room and knew Lynn was already giving Eddie his breakfast. He smiled thankful that Lynn had turned out to be such a gold mine, she was exactly what Eddie needed.
Still smiling Casey went into the kitchen to make pancakes. He burnt the first batch as his mind was on the days events rather than on cooking. Frowning as smoke-filled the room, he heard laughter coming from behind him. “Here let me do the,” Lynn told him taking the pan from him. Grumbling Casey let himself be ushered out of his kitchen. “Are you worried about the exhibit?” Lynn asked while she got rid of the burnt pancakes and started again.
Shrugging Casey glanced across the room “no, I mean yes.” Sighing loudly “I didn’t even want to do this. Now that I am, I’m afraid no body will like my work.”
Lynn laughed at him from where she stood flipping pancakes. “It’s alright if your nervous. Everyone is when they’re putting their work on display.”
“Thanks,” he mumbled turning to watch her. A smile played across his lips as he watched the light brighten the red in her hair. His eyes traveled down her long, lean legs as she stood cooking in her little nightie. Heat flushed his face as he forced his eyes away. Getting up he walled towards the door “I’m going to check the mail.”
Outside he stood breathing deeply of the cool morning air hoping to clear his head. ‘Get a grip on yourself. She’s here for Eddie not for you,’ he mumbled to himself. She could be here for both an obstinate voice in his head responded. Sighing he ran his hands through his hair. Checking the mailbox all he found were bills, smiling to himself as he realized what an unexciting life he had.
On his way back inside he picked up the newspaper. Sitting at the table he glanced over the paper briefly considered asking Lynn to put a robe on and dismissed it. Opening the paper he shook his head, even if he was denying himself certain things there was no reason why he couldn’t enjoy the view. He felt Lynn watching him as he pretended to read the paper, god she was driving him crazy in that outfit. The tune she was humming was interrupted “did you say something?” he asked glancing up from the paper.
“Err no …. I” she stammered and Casey watched as she turned bright red. What was that all about he wondered. Lynn cleared her throat “pancakes are ready,” she announced putting the plate on the table and sitting opposite Casey at the table.
“Mmmm smells good,” he sniffed appreciatively. Catching a whiff of her perfume, like a spring day, lilacs his favorite.
“I hope they taste as good as they smell,” she said as she buttered her pancakes.
“I’m sure you do,” Casey absently said. He felt heat flush is cheeks as he quickly stammered “the pancakes, they smell good.” ‘Oh god she must think I’m an idiot’ he told himself looking down at the table wishing he could be anywhere but here. He looked up at her thru is eyelashes, noticing she was staring at him with a bemused grin on her face. At least she didn’t appear to be angry.
“So you think I smell nice,” she raised an eyebrow smirking at him.
“Err yes,” Casey mumbled looking up from his half eaten pancakes. “You smell like spring.”
Bringing her hand up to cover her mouth as she smothered a giggle “your son said I smelled like flowers.”
“Lilacs actually,” he grinned at her finding her green eyes more enticing than the wood grain in the table top he had been staring at. Glancing at the clock his smile faded “I’m going to be late.” Rushing to his feet he shoved his feet into his shoes and quickly brushed his teeth. Running past Lynn in his haste to get on his way he heard her call out “relax and enjoy yourself.”
The last thing he heard as he went out the door was the sound of soft laughter behind him. It was the sound he most enjoyed and found annoying at the same time. He had never been spontaneous he found himself questioning his actions and squashing any impulse if he thought the action was improper. Shaking his head, maybe what he lacked was what he found most endearing about Lynn. She was fun, laughter bubbled up from inside her that made even the darkest days seem a little lighter.
The exhibit was a glowing success. He received a lot of compliments on his work and a few commissions for portraits and paintings around town. The only downside to the evening was the constant clinging of Eleanor. She would drape herself on his arm, attempting to pass herself off as not only his manager but his girlfriend as well. Casey was growing tired of having to brush off her advances as she would take him by the arm to introduce him to someone. As the night progressed he felt like he was caught in a cat and mouse game. He found himself a quiet corner where he could sit and allowed his mind to wander on how the night might have been if he had asked Lynn to accompany him. He missed her ability to make the most tedious situation bearable.
Being around Eleanor was like fighting off an angry octopus. She was everywhere Casey wished she weren’t. He found it disconcerting that in college Eleanor would have been they type he would have been attracted to, the assertive, confidant girl who know what she wanted and how to get it. Lynn wouldn’t have even made blip on his radar and now she was the one he wished was by his side.
The night finally came to a close and he endured Eleanor clinging to his arm as his walked her to her car. “Come to my house and we can celebrate our success together,” she purred in his ear as she wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him before he had time to react to what she was doing.
“No thank you,” he said stepping away “I need to get home to my son.”
She grabbed his hand pulling him towards her “Isn’t that why you have that mouse of a nanny for? To care for Edwin?” She started to move her hands to places that made him uncomfortable. Taking several steps backwards away from her advances he said “I take care of my son.” His jaw clinched he fought to remain calm and force his anger down.
“You can’t possibly be turning me down,” Eleanor said as she approached him. “Not after all the work I did for you. Aren’t you the tiniest bit grateful?”
“I am but ….” his confusion at the turn events evident in his tone and manner.
“Then show it,” she said reaching for his belt.
“What the …” Casey started shocked, knocking her hand away. “I’ll be getting a different manager in the future.”
“You can’t,” she stared coldly at him.
“I can and will,” Casey told her stepping back “I haven’t signed anything. I’m not under any contractual agreement.”
“But tonight was a success. The least you could do is to retain me as your manager.”
“After tonight I wouldn’t be caught dead with you lead alone sign anything giving you kind of control over me.” A hard edge came into his voice as he spoke “Your behavior has been insulting and disgusting.” Turning he walked without looking back to his car.
She screamed at his retreating figure “you can’t do this.”
Shaking his head as he closed the car door on her protests. Putting the car into gear he turned towards the exit mumbling to himself hoping he’d seen the last of her. His phone began to vibrate as he approached the exit. Deciding to ignore it he kept going, his mind on going home, relaxing with a good book maybe a pleasant conversation with Lynn before going to bed. Something ran out in front of the car. Braking hard he hit his forehead on the steering wheel. Holding a hand to his head he fumbled with the door handle as the security guard came running up to him.
“Mr. Bennett are you alright?” he asked as he helped Casey out of the vehicle. “I saw everything. She ran out in front of you. You didn’t hit. I’d swear to it.”
Nodding Casey staggered towards the front of his car where he found Eleanor crumpled on the pavement. What had she been thinking when she ran out in front of him? Had she been the one calling? Was this an act of desperation because of his rejection of her advances? The world tilted around him as the blood rushed from his head. Leaning on the car breathing hard he heard the guard say “I called the cops. They should be here shortly.”
Numbly he watched the guard go over to Eleanor saying “think she bumped her head when she fell. You didn’t hit her, I’d swear to that.”
Nodding his heavy head increased his nausea, he sank to his knees on the pavement as two patrol cars pulled up with lights flashing. As if he was watching a movie in slow motion, Casey observed the officers checking on Eleanor, talking with the guard before one of them approached him and asked him what happened. “We had an argument. I turned her down. She wasn’t happy. I left her while she was still screaming at me.” The officer nodded as he put his pen and notebook away. As if talking to himself Casey muttered “why did she do it? I didn’t think she was crazy enough to throw herself in front of my car.” Leaning forward he asked the other officer “is she alright?”
“Tell him it’s none of his damn business,” came the snarky reply.
Smirking Casey chuckled feeling somewhat relieved hearing Eleanor’s voice “I’ll take that as a yes.” Yawning Casey asked the officer standing beside him “can I go now?”
“Yes, we have your statement and the guards,” the officer shrugged looking towards Eleanor being helped to her feet. “It’s pretty clear what happened.”
Casey turned and opened the car door when he heard someone come up behind him “Aren’t you going to apologize?”
“Whatever for?” he asked without turning. He sat in his car before continuing “your the one who ran out in front of me. Your lucky I saw you and stopped before you were really hurt.”